the year of the leeks

It was great to see so many of you at our pumpkin day at the end of October. We had a brilliant day with demos from Riverford Cooks, farm walks, pumpkin carving, storytelling, face painting and lots more. I hope to see everyone again in April for our Easter egg hunt. We have had requests for some of the recipes from the day; the squash tagine recipe is on this newsletter and the very popular squash fritters and pumpkin and coconut soup are on our website in the recipe section.

There are always crops that do well and not so well depending on the year. This year has been great for leeks. The early plantings were planted in very hot and dry conditions – not ideal for leek growing – but Duncan and his team nurtured them through with plenty of water and they are now looking fantastic. The later planting has had ideal conditions, with plenty of water through August and warm soil conditions. They are the biggest leeks Duncan has grown since we started here in 2006. The mild autumn has continued to help the leeks bulk up and the moment they seem to be showing no signs of slowing down. There could even be a shortage later in the year if they continue to grow at this pace.

The winter lettuces we planted in the tunnels four weeks ago are looking really healthy. The first harvest is now two weeks away, so like the leeks, they have been another success story of the mild autumn. They are planted out as blocks, already two to three weeks old, to help them get off to a good start. They come from Delfland, a Soil Association approved nursery in Cambridgeshire. David Peagram, our tomato grower in Southampton, accused me of not doing it properly this week, as he readies himself to plant all his lettuce seeds in trays over the coming days, before planting them out to be ready in February. I wish him luck. It doesn’t feel quite right to be talking about lettuce as we go into November but I hope they will provide some welcome relief from the roots, brassicas and leeks of winter.
 

James MacGregor, General Manager